Help spread the word about LOVE EVER AFTER and win $100 gift card!

That's right! Just help me and my fellow InkHeart Authors spread the word about our upcoming boxed set release, LOVE EVER AFTER, and be entered to win. There are many ways to help and the more you shout out, the more it will increase your chances of winning! FullSizeRender 3

How to enter:
One thing you can do when promoting our boxed set is to use the hashtags #LoveEverAfter and #Ink_Heart. This allows us to see your "shout-outs", which in turn, allows us to retweet, repost, like it etc. as well as connect with other potential readers. Without those hashtags, your efforts go unseen and, therefore, possibly unrewarded. We don't want that!
But the most important thing you can do to make sure you’re entered in our giveaway is to REGISTER your promotional efforts in one handy dandy place when you’re all finished.
Ways you can help AND be entered in our giveaway: 
1. Tweet any or all of the pre-made tweets below between now and September 20th. (This can be done daily—in fact, we encourage it!) Feel free to make up your own, but we’ve included a few pre-made ones for your convenience.
4. If you're already a Twitter and/or Facebook follower, don't worry. You can still enter our giveaway by publicly telling your Twitter and/or Facebook friends to follow us too! (Just remember to use the hashtags #Ink_Heart and #LoveEverAfter when you do so we can see it.)
5. Subscribe to our InkHeart Author Newsletter.
6. Like, comment, and share our LOVE EVER AFTER Boxed Set 99¢ Pre-Order Sale on your own Facebook page with the two important hashtags mentioned above. Click here to share our post.
7. Have Instagram? Give us and/or the boxed set a mention there too. And don't forget those special hashtags so we see it.
8.  Add the LOVE EVER AFTER Boxed Set onto your Goodreads "Wanna Read" list. Eager to help us out more? Recommend our boxed set to your Goodreads friends!
9.  Feature our boxed set on your book blog! (And if you do, AGAIN please use the two hashtags so we can visit, give you a huge cyber hug, and enter you into our giveaway as well!)
*Please make certain we’ve seen your efforts and you’re entered to win our $100 Amazon Gift Card!
Suggested Pre-Made Tweets For Your Convenience:
♥ #LoveEverAfter ♥
11 brand new book boyfriends & #99cents Pre-Order Sale! #ink_Heart #amreading #romance #kindle
♥ #LoveEverAfter ♥
11 brand new book boyfriends & #99cents Pre-Order Sale! #ink_Heart #amreading #romance #iBooks
♥ #LoveEverAfter ♥
11 brand new book boyfriends & #99cents Pre-Order Sale! #ink_Heart #amreading #romance #Nook
11 Brand New "Book Boyfriends" for ONLY #99cents! (Pre-order Sale) #LoveEverAfter #Ink_Heart #kindle
11 Brand New "Book Boyfriends" for ONLY #99cents! (Pre-order Sale) #LoveEverAfter #Ink_Heart #iBooks
11 Brand New "Book Boyfriends" for ONLY #99cents! (Pre-order Sale) #LoveEverAfter #Ink_Heart #Nook
Cowboys, rock stars, hockey players, shifters & more! 11 Brand New "Book Boyfriends" ONLY #99cents #Ink_Heart
Cowboys, rock stars, hockey players, shifters & more! 11 Brand New "Book Boyfriends" ONLY #99cents #Ink_Heart
Cowboys, rock stars, hockey players, shifters & more! 11 Brand New "Book Boyfriends" ONLY #99cents #Ink_Heart
Things to remember: 
  • Don’t forget TO REGISTER your awesome efforts so you have a chance of winning the $100 Amazon gift card!
  • Every single book in our Love Ever After boxed set is a BRAND NEW, NEVER-BEFORE-PUBLISHED story.
  • The 99¢ price is only good for pre-orders and release week. After that, it goes up to $3.99!
  • Must use hashtags #LoveEverAfter and #Ink_Heart so we can see, like, and retweet you!
  • We'd appreciate any help you can give us in spreading the word!
Thanks so much, romance fans!
LOVE EVER AFTER: Eleven All-New Romances!
Are you ready for 11 Brand New Book Boyfriends all by New York Times, USA Today, and National bestselling authors?
For a limited time, get eleven ALL-NEW romances in one EXCLUSIVE collection! Cowboys, rock stars, hockey players, shifters, vampires and more! Read more...
But hurry—this 99¢ price is only good for pre-orders and release week! After that, it jumps to $3.99!
(Release Date: September 15, 2015)
Available for pre-order at:
Amazon B&N | iBooks | Kobo coming soon...

Real You: Cover reveal! IN THE MIRROR is coming out May 1st!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

In the Mirror by Kaira Rouda

In the Mirror

by Kaira Rouda

Giveaway ends April 30, 2014.

See the giveaway details at Goodreads.

Enter to win

And to celebrate, my publisher is hosting a Goodreads Book Giveaway! Enter to win by clicking the link, or simply hop over to Goodreads and search giveaways! I'd really appreciate it if you'd add the book to your To Read list! Soon, I'll have more information for pre-ordering - but in the meantime, here is your chance to enter to win a copy for free!

What's IN THE MIRROR all about, you ask? The novel revolves around a simple question: If you knew you might die soon, what choices would you make?

Jennifer Benson has it all: a successful career, a perfect husband, two kids and abundant friendships. The only problem is she may be dying. IN THE MIRROR is the realistic love story about a woman facing a deadly illness, and her loves past and present. It's a story that unfolds with a delightful blend of humor and poignancy, ringing true in the heart of anyone who has ignored a warning of her own.

And look at these fabulous reviews! "Kaira Rouda has created relatable characters you'll care deeply about. Emotionally gripping and heart-achingly beautiful, this novel will make you think about what is truly important." ~ New York Times bestselling author Tracey Garvis Graves

"Balancing sadness and humor, the retrospective tone of this novel is both therapeutic and affecting. In the Mirror is an emotion-packed novel about a mother facing terminal cancer. It is a nostalgic tribute to the things that really matter: family and friends." ~ Foreword

"Jennifer's journey through cancer and her struggle to love her husband in the face of the return of her first love is something to cheer and rejoice in. A moving and uplifting novel about family and the struggles we all face to live every minute to the fullest." ~ Anita Hughes, author of Monarch Beach and Market Street

"I was completely absorbed by In the Mirror. This is a moving story from the unique perspective of a seriously ill patient who is a wife, sister, daughter and friend, examining all of those relationships with honesty and humor. This story will stay with you because of the questions it asks and the answers it offers." ~ Lian Dolan, bestselling author of Helen of Pasadena

Thank you for sharing in the excitement - and thank you, as always, for your support!

In the Mirror by Kaira Rouda


Real You: Exciting news to share!

My third novel, IN THE MIRROR, will be published on May 1st! I'm excited to share it with you and will be able to reveal the cover very soon. For those of you who have waited for this for a year - yes, 2013 was a transition year for me full of floods, and moves, and graduations, and more - thank you!I hope you'll find IN THE MIRROR to be worth the wait! As the publication date gets closer I will let you know about some fun contests and other events I have planned to celebrate with you. Here's what New York Times bestselling author Tracey Garvis Graves says about IN THE MIRROR: "Emotionally gripping and heart-achingly beautiful, this novel will make you think about what's truly important."

I very much hope you'll agree! Thank you for reading my work! It means so much! Hopefully, you'll find room on your bookshelf for IN THE MIRROR!


Real You: Happy New Year book news and woman power

I hope you're having a great start to 2014! So far, I've been enjoying my family, recovering from food poisoning (a pickle, of all things), and trying to get back in the writing saddle. The end of 2013 left me a bit adrift, from the writing standpoint. But, I should have some good news to announce shortly! In the meantime, I wanted to let you all know that IndieReader gave ALL THE DIFFERENCE  a great review on their site, calling it "a quick and sexy mystery, a challenge to unravel, and proves there’s nothing humdrum about the ‘burbs." See the whole review here. I wasn't expecting the review and it reinvigorated me, the same way that five-star Amazon reviews can. It's odd, but us writers are such a sensitive lot. A tiny bit of applause goes a long way.

My debut novel, HERE, HOME, HOPE, was an Amazon bestseller over the holidays and was selected to be part of the price match program. If you buy the paperback version, the eBook is free. And HHH is part of Amazon's New Year, New You promotion which is exciting. Only books with a positive, life-change type message were selected and I'm honored that HHH is one of them. And, for a limited time this January, HHH will be 99 cents for your eReader so if you're looking for a way to kick off your New Year with a New You (although I always say Real You because that's what we are all shooting for, right?), please give HERE, HOME, HOPE a try.

I would be remiss if I didn't mention my first baby, book-wise that is. Real You Incorporated: 8 Essentials for Women Entrepreneurs continues to make a difference in women's lives and for me, there is nothing more gratifying. Hearing from women entrepreneurs across the country about how they've started a new business, or are reinventing their existing business because of what they read in RYI is amazing. I'm touched and celebrate your stories of success. But we still have a long way to go, together.

And speaking of women helping other women, have you seen the documentary Miss Representation? Or heard of the Representation Project? This group's mission is to expose the powerful gender stereotypes that limit girls and women from achieving their full potential in our society. I have taken the pledge and encourage you to do likewise. Once you make yourself more aware of who controls the media, and the messages we are bombarded with daily, I bet you'll want to get involved, too.

So I guess my New Year's wish is that we all keep working toward a world where equality - in politics, in business, in the media - everywhere - is a given. Where women have an equal chance of creating (and being taken seriously) books, movies and television. Because with more female creators come more complex, interesting female characters. All of my amazing author friends already are doing this. And we need you to join us.

As Marian Wright Edelman aptly said: "You can't be what you can't see."

Real You: Making your dreams come true

Reality check time!Here is the most important notion I've learned during the last five years: you are responsible for making your dreams come true. That's it. The truth. You can wish for help, you can pray for assistance, you can even believe in somebody who says they can make your dream come true. But they won't. They can't.

In my first book - a business book for women entrepreneurs called REAL YOU INCORPORATED - I emphasize the fact that to make the business of your dreams become a reality, it all starts with you. Knowing who you are, and what you truly want. Knowing what you are willing to sacrifice to get there, and knowing what you won't.

And, I'll tell you what. It's the same whether your dream is to become a small business owner, or a published author, or a (fill in the blank). It is up to you. My youngest son is 17 and pursuing his dream, wholeheartedly, as I write this. His dream, most would say, is the impossible dream of making it as a singer/songwriter. Not just making it as in playing a few gigs in the garage after he comes home from his real job. No, he wants this to be his real job. Yikes, right?

Wrong. You see, I wish I had gone for it earlier, my dream of writing a novel. I didn't have the confidence. I took the "easy" path of journalism and marketing. I learned a bunch and enjoyed a fabulous career. But I always wanted to write books. Oh, and live at the beach. I'm finally doing both, but it took me a very long time to get here.

So that's why I'm wholeheartedly watching my son Dylan make his dream come true. (People tell me he looks like James Dean and sounds like, well you decide!)Dylan's EP Arrives

Dylan wrote five original songs, recorded his first EP and released it a couple of weeks ago. He has stepped out into the world, and out of his high school comfort zone. It takes courage. It takes amazing perseverance. Sure, his family is all behind him - but he must make this dream come true. And I believe it will, because he believes it will. And he wants it, more than anything.

What do you want? What's your dream? A group of authors have joined together to help you make your dreams come true by giving you a jump start - and a chance to win a fabulous prize! So enter the 101 Dreams Come True contest created by my friend, the novelist Marci Nault and featuring two of my books - HERE, HOME, HOPE and REAL YOU INCORPORATED: 8 Essentials for Women Entrepreneurs. Both books are about making dreams come true - and both will remind you it all starts with you.

101 Dreams Contest

Real You: Hometown Memories

A friend of mine from my hometown of Upper Arlington, Ohio, asked me last summer if I would write my favorite memory of my time there. Hmmm. I was stumped. It took me until this fall to finally write the piece. Here's what I came up with. What's your favorite hometown memory?

It’s hard to sum up a favorite UA memory, at least it is for me. UA is the place I spent my formative years – from fourth grade at Burbank Elementary through graduation from Upper Arlington High School. It’s the place where all four of my children were born – and it’s the place where my husband was born and raised. It’s also, the place where my father-in-law started his business. There is so much here – so many layers of remembrance on every street, each shopping center, even in the smell of the air as the seasons change. UA is home. It’s family. It’s tradition and always will be in my heart, no matter where I am.

A place is its people. My best memory is of the spirit of Upper Arlington as embodied by its people during the Fourth of July. Our community spirit. Our American pride. The celebration of the next generation as the little kids bike past, and of generations before as the Veterans shuffle along. Soon after we had started our family we moved from downtown Columbus to – where else- Upper Arlington. We moved to Yorkshire Road and we stayed there, in two different homes, for almost 20 years.

One of my fondest memories are the years we spent as a street – the Yorkshire Road team - building the float for the Fourth of July. It brought us all together – kids and parents – as we labored away each afternoon and evening to create our rolling masterpiece. Finally, when the float was finished in the wee hours of the night, and the big morning arrived, we’d proudly don our Yorkshire Road shirts and march along the parade route, celebrating our accomplishment, celebrating being together as neighbors and as part of an amazing, spirited community. I loved those years.

Really, I loved all my years in UA. Sure, sometimes it was tough but like Middle School, whether at Jones or Hastings, you just get through it. All in all, there is no place better to raise a family. To raise kids who have strong values and community pride. My kids cherish their connection to Upper Arlington. My kids saw their grandfather celebrated as Grand Marshall of the same Fourth of July parade one year. How could they feel anything but connected to this amazing community?

UA is where my family of origin’s home burned down, and it’s where I chose to build the family of my own. UA is where my parents got divorced, and it’s where I got married to a UA native. UA is where I have made my closest friends for life, and it’s where I have lost friends who died too young. UA is a place where you can return to after you’ve left, and still feel at home.

UA is a special place because of its people. And if it’s your moment in time to live here – whether for a few years or for a lifetime – allow the spirit of the community to embrace you . Because like the fireworks in Northam Park on the Fourth of July, there is wonder and celebration in this place we call home.

Real You: The long haul

That's what I'm reminding myself as I sit down to write this post - finally - after a several-month-long writer's block. It's about the long haul, the sum total of what you've done to make a difference in the world, and not about any one period of muck. Or drought. Or in my case, a flood, followed by a move, followed by a huge asthma attack due to the sealant used on the roads in my neighborhood, followed by a massive construction project RIGHT NEXT STORE that has been in full force every day since we moved into the new house at the beginning of April, just after the flood in our new home. How's that for a sentence? To me, it felt good to finally write because during this time, this time of unsettlement, I haven't been able to write, at least not very much. And that, as my fellow writers and creatives will tell you, is THE WORST. I don't know if the final "pass" from editor after editor who I respect regarding my next novel added to my funk. My amazing agent Amanda still has hope, still believes in me and my career for the long haul.

I guess what is just below the surface of this period of time has been the question: Do I still believe in me? In my writing. In this career, the career of my dreams. And until the answer is yes, a firm resounding yes, it's hard to get yourself to do it.

And that goes for everything that requires self-motivation, drive and perseverance. No matter what, you've got to keep at it. Hurdles, and writer's block, are for jumping. For overcoming and for getting through. Because if not, you're just giving up. And you're worth more than that.

And so am I, darn it. Happy Fall. And happy creating!


Making pumpkin pie out of pumpkins

Real You: Welcome Author Meg Waite Clayton

I'm so excited to welcome my friend, the New York Times bestselling author Meg Waite Clayton who is celebrating the publication of her newest novel, The Wednesday Daughters, to my blog.  Below Meg explains the history of her writing career - and her firm belief in the comfort of writing friends. Wednesday Daughters NYTBS Cover

Take it away, Meg:

The history of my own writing starts with a purse. Like the character of Linda in my novel, The Wednesday Sisters, my first writing teacher—at a college extension class—dumped hers out over the table and told us to write for five minutes about anything that spilled out.

Ok, wait. The truth, if memory serves, is that my first writing teacher actually brought a brown paper lunch bag full of interesting things. The purse is fiction. But you get the idea. And perhaps I should say I was well into my 30s by the time this happened? In case you’re imagining, say, an eight-year-old with missing teeth.

At any rate, my teacher swore we wouldn’t have to read (just as Linda does in The Wednesday Sisters when she’s pushing the sisters to write at the picnic table in the park). Then she called on me to read first.

Which is the good news. If she hadn’t, I’d have ducked out before she could. It had taken all the nerve I had just to get to that class, to admit that, yes, I dreamed of writing novels.

To make a long story short from that point, it took me ten years to get my first book published. It took me several just to get a short piece in a magazine. The thing that kept me going was writing friends. I’ve gathered with writing groups of one sort or another in Los Angeles, Baltimore, Nashville, and Palo Alto, which are the three places I’ve lived as a writer. Would I have kept writing without their support, or would I had slunk back to the law and lived out my days in 6-minute billable increments? I don’t know, and I’m sure glad I’ll never have to. Being a published novelist is my dream come true. And my best advice to other writers remains to find kindred souls. We all lose heart at some point in this process. We all need support.

So it’s perhaps no surprise that the novels I write are about friends supporting friends when life gets tough. In The Wednesday Sisters, it was five moms helping each other become writers as they made their way through other challenges. In my new novel, The Wednesday Daughters, it’s three of the daughters of the original Sisters, carrying the support to the next generation. There is a lot of writing advice in this new book just as there was in The Wednesday Sisters. Much if it this time comes from Peter Rabbit author Beatrix Potter, in whose English Lake District home the novel is largely set.

But the heart of the story is friends helping friends as they deal with the things we all deal with in life. Love. Loss. Grief. Awkwardness. Embarrassment. Motherhood. Dealing with our own mothers. And did I mention love? At it’s heart, The Wednesday Daughters is a love story. Or two. Or actually, probably five.

Meg Waite Clayton is the New York Times bestselling author of four novels: The Wednesday Sisters, The Wednesday Daughters, The Four Ms. Bradwells, and the Bellwether Prize finalist The Language of Light. She’s written for The Los Angeles Times, San Jose Mercury News, Miami Herald, Writer's Digest, Runner's World, The Literary Review and public radio, and for Ms. and Forbes online. Come say hello on facebook (, twitter (@megwclayton) or at


"The present and the past intertwine beautifully and inevitably in Meg Waite Clayton's winning follow-up to The Wednesday Sisters. From the beguiling Lake District setting, to a completely charming (and spot-on) portrayal of Beatrix Potter, to the way the Wednesday daughters strive to unpuzzle both their own choices and their mothers' legacies, every layer of the novel delivers. Utterly rich and satisfying. —PAULA MCLAIN, NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLING AUTHOR OF THE PARIS WIFE


ALL THE DIFFERENCE is National Indie Excellence Winner!

I'm so excited to announce that my second novel, ALL THE DIFFERENCE, is a 2013 National Indie Excellence Award Winner, one of four finalists in the fiction suspense category! As the Indie Excellence press release notes, "Not only has the number of entrants increased, but the excellence has risen to a whole new level. Advances in technology and the increase in sophistication of self-publishers has produced a bumper crop of books that stand proudly next those published by mainstream houses. This has created a challenge of unexpected magnitude for the contest judges."

"The National Indie Excellence Awards criteria for recognition are stringent and include overall excellence. This award celebrates the highest achievements in small publishing, a sector of the industry that has grown exponentially in recent years." Yay!

Here is another reason I'm so excited! ALL THE DIFFERENCE was my first attempt writing suspense, even though I grew up as a huge fan of Jessica Fletcher (Murder She Wrote) and of course, Nancy Drew. I grew up imagining myself alongside these heroines, trying to figure out the mystery as it unfolded. If you're a fan of those types of stories, I hope you'll consider giving ALL THE DIFFERENCE a try.

Jessica Fletcher - MURDER SHE WROTE

Real You: Authors in Bloom Blog Hop! 10 days of prizes, tips and more!

Welcome to my part of the Author's in Bloom Blog Hop Tour! I am happily giving away a signed copy of my debut novel HERE, HOME, HOPE and a copy of my mystery, ALL THE DIFFERENCE! Leave a comment here and then hop to all the other fabulous authors and discover reading and gardening tips galore! For all the contest rules and details, please visit the Authors in Bloom landing page at And by entering, you're also be ALSO be eligible for the GRAND PRIZE - a Kindle Fire or Nook (winner's choice) and a $25 gift card for the same.

Please leave comments on my blog to win! Winners announced on April 19th, 2013 (US and Canada only)!

Here's a tip: Don't ever sign up to be part of a blog tour on your moving day. (My apologies for the late post, Diane!)

For a gardening tip: This is the coolest idea, I think! When I got married 23 years ago next month, my bouquet was green and white. Beautiful. Secretly, my mom saved a few clippings from the bouquet before I tossed it, and grew them. In particular, a wonderful spider plant. On our fifth wedding anniversary, my mom gave me the wedding plant. It has now moved 7 times, including across country. Last night, I transplanted the wedding plant into its new pot in our new home. It has been through a lot but hopefully, it will last another 23 years!

Good luck to you if you enter the contest and be sure to visit the landing page for a list of all the other wonderful authors in bloom!


Real You: A moving experience

We all have certain talents - and certain, shall we say, challenges. Well, I'll readily admit one of my biggest deficits is organization - or lack thereof! So, the fact we've moved as a family four times since the fall of 2009 is remarkable. Remarkable that we've stuck together and remarkable that I can find anything, anywhere. And, why am I writing about this you ask? We're moving AGAIN! So with the impending, looming process I thought I'd take a moment to share the top five things I've learned during my last four years of a very moving experience:

Lesson 1: You cannot control anything. You can plan, make checklists, plan some more - but when the big day comes, it arrives with all the mistakes, broken dishes and chipped treasures that are part of being human.

Lesson 2: Moving is a great time for reflection. I have so loved seeing my kids' artwork, finding favorite notecards and re-reading letters from my grandmothers and great aunts. But, I also learned you can get bogged down in memories and somewhat stuck in the past, especially if you are a sentimental soul. My new found trick: put special treasures in a tub and promise yourself to give yourself time to delve into them again later. And keep that date.

Lesson 3: Let it go. Downsize before you move. I'm not kidding. If you force yourself to giveaway and let go of stuff and junk ahead of time - you know those boxes of stuff that hasn't been open for years. Trust me. You'll just keep it in boxes again and move it again.

Lesson 4: Take photos. Really. Of your place now, every room, the way we were. It's important. You'll love to look back on it later. Your former space and place.

Lesson 5: Every move has brought us closer together and helped us all focus on what is truly important. Your family. If that's happy, solid and good - you can go anywhere together. Everything else is added blessing.

If you're moving anytime soon - I hope these lessons bring you comfort and hope!

Real You: The power of patience

I've joined a meditation class. I was reluctant initially because I didn't understand that there is an entire methodology behind the practice of meditation. It's not about chanting, or some other "out there" sort of new age thing, as my youngest assumes. (He'll learn.) It's the art of opening and emptying your mind and being still. It's a place inside yourself free of judgment and full of love, devoid of technology and abounding in possibilities. It's a hard place to find, but it's wonderful to learn. To practice. And to practice patience.  

Oh, and it was good timing when I started the meditation class. My third novel is on submission with my agent and the waiting, this next step of waiting in the publishing process, is enough to drive anybody crazy. (Breathe.) My son is waiting to hear from colleges to discover where he'll spend the next four years of his life. (Breathe.) Our new home was just about ready for us to move in when it was flooded by a sub-contractor's misstep. Literally, he stepped on and broke a main water line. (Breathe.)

Whatever is trying your patience today, perhaps you should give meditation a try. The studio that opened in my town is part of a growing wave of meditation studios opening up - and opening minds - nationwide.

"Have patience with all things. But first, have patience with yourself." Saint Frances de Sales

Real You: So about those New Year resolutions . . .

I used to make a resolution, or several, each year New Year. I know many of you do, too. Unfortunately, this is about the time, the end of January, when those resolutions go bust. My theory. Don't make them and then you can't break them. Don't get me wrong. I'm all about goal setting, and I'm really trying to up my cardio exercise intake this year even with my compete disdain of any type of sweat. But it's not a New Year's resolution. Nope. It's a fitness commitment. Oh, and I've joined a meditation group, too, but that's just something I've wanted to try.

Ok, well, maybe there is a link between the new year and trying some new things. I just prefer to give myself the gift of less pressure than a failed resolution. I'm going to try new things this year. Some I'll stick with; some I won't. But that's ok!  

So if you feel like you've failed on a New Year's resolution, take another approach. Think about some things you doing differently and give yourself a pat on the back. You're turning over a new leaf. It's exciting so give yourself permission to try new things, no matter what you call change.

Real You: 10 ways to give to great causes from your heart

Please welcome my guest, author Jill Williamson. Jill has a wonderful take on the some of the most wonderful ways to give gifts this Christmas! Oh, and she's putting her words where her heart is - read on! Welcome Jill:

People spend more and give more in the month of December than in any other month. I love seeing how generous people are at this time of year. But there is so much need in the world. Do you ever feel like there’s just no way to give enough? And if money is tight, how can you afford to give to charities when you’re concerned with paying your bills and putting food on the table?

Fret no more! Here are ten ways to give to great causes that are close to your heart and on the other side of the world. And if you have kids or want to do these with a group of friends, that works too.

1. Clean House- Set aside a day to clean house. Go through your clothing, dishes, books, food—everything!—and find items to donate to charity. Get your kids involved by asking them to choose five to ten toys from their rooms too. It will be a great lesson in sacrifice. Ask yourself: When was the last time I wore this/used this? If it was gone, would I really miss it? Then take your donations where they can be used: the local food banks, coats for kids, a charity-owned thrift store, or a local church that ministers to the needy.

2. Clean Up- Set aside an afternoon to clean up the trash in a certain part of town. (If it’s snowy where you live, this might have to wait until spring.) But you (and your family or friends) could also volunteer to clean a community location like a park or a church. If the location has a janitor, see if they’d be willing to give the janitor a paid day off if you did his work. And if you do work out on the roads, be sure to wear bright colors or reflective vests for safety.

3. Sign Up- There are many worthy causes that people are fighting for. Sometimes no blessing is greater than giving your signature. Follow this link ( and click the “Register Now” button to sign up to be an organ donor. You could also sign various petitions for causes. See what causes you can find to join at

4. Click- Did you know that associate links force advertisers to pay a little something, even if you don’t make a purchase? If you have a have a friend that uses Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or other store links on her blog, click through that link before you go shopping on that site, even if you don’t buy the item your friend was advertising. You could be giving her five or ten cents, or several dollars, depending on what you purchase. The same is true for organizations that use associate links.

Here is a site where you can click for worldly causes like hunger, animal rescue, veterans, autism, child health, literacy, and the rainforest. They also have products for sale that donate to these causes. Visit here to click:

This site works the same as The Hunger Site. Visit to click for water, food, education, or home loans.

And how about playing games to make donations? Free Rice is a lot of fun ( On this site, you guess the correct definition of words, and each correct answer shows the amount of rice you’ve donated just by playing. I admit, I got hooked and wanted to keep playing!

At you simply choose which commercial to watch and that company will pay for seven days of clean water. Easy peasy.

If you find a clickable page you love, make it your homepage so you’ll always remember to click each day.

5. Random Acts of Kindness- William James said, “The deepest principle in human nature is the craving to be appreciated.” Some simple ways you can show appreciation are:

-Smile. This is the fastest way to show others you like them. -Give a compliment. Saying something nice is an easy way to make someone’s day. -Ask a question. And don’t stop at “How are you?” Questions are a simple way to start a conversation. And people feel good when you’re interested in their life. -Listen. Everyone likes to be heard, and listening lets a person know you care. -Offer to help. If you see someone struggling, jump in and lend a hand! Get the door for a stranger. Give up your seat on the bus. Slow down and let a pedestrian pass—even if they’re jaywalking! And don’t honk at them.

Check out the Random Acts of Kindness Foundation for more ideas.

6. Volunteer- Charities always need volunteers--sometimes more so during the holidays. See what organizations in your town could use a helping hand. Some ideas are: soup kitchens, churches, Habitat for Humanity, homeless shelters, lunch buddy programs, your local schools, retirement homes… You could even go Christmas caroling!

7. Pocket Change- Every time you see a bell ringer outside a store, empty your pocket change. Every little bit helps. And ask the bell ringer a question or two, as well. It’s hard work volunteering to stand on your feet all day while people avoid making eye contact with you. Make their day a little brighter by making a donation of pocket change and saying something kind.

8. Hang Out- There are tons of kids, teens, and adults performing this time of year, whether it’s Christmas programs or sporting events. Support someone by attending their event. And be sure to speak to them while you’re there and give them a compliment to show them how much you care. You could also go visit someone who’s in the hospital or a retirement home, take them a treat or a book or movie. Or make plans to have coffee or a meal with an old friend you haven’t seen in a while. Make it a point to bless them with your conversation.

9. Recycle- Do you recycle your soda cans? If so, cash them in and give the money to the charity of your choice, or look for a place to donate them. Our town has several donation boxes for school teams or youth groups.

10. Buy a book (Jill’s shameless plug)- If you like to read, I recently published an enovella (book length: 120 pages) in which 100% of the proceeds go toward the adoption of a little girl from Eastern Europe. My friends need to raise over $40,000 to bring their daughter home, and they have a long way to go.

Sydney-soon to be-Haydon

This is a fun story about a teen guy who has joined a Christian spy organization. I wrote it for teens, but adults enjoy it too. It follows the first book in the series, but you can enjoy it without having read book one. Check it out:

Chokepoint: Mini-Mission 1.5

Ever since I returned from Moscow, life is a full court press. Mission League field agents are everywhere. All the time. Watching. Waiting for me to fulfill a sixty-year-old prophecy. When some baddies try to guy-nap me, the field agents threaten to move me and Grandma Alice to some random hick town, to give us new fake identities until the prophecy is fulfilled.

Not going to happen.

I've got one chance to stay in Pilot Point. I have to prove to the agents that I can stay safe. Have to make this work. For basketball. For Kip. For Beth.

So, bring it, baddies. It’s game on.


How about you? Any other ideas for ways to give that don’t require donating money or buying a gift and wrapping it? Have you tried any of the above ideas? Share in the comment section.

Naughty or Nice Holiday Giveaway! Winner Announced!

It's the most wonderful time of the year! And to celebrate, we've asked two of our favorite leading ladies - Kelly from HERE, HOME, HOPE - and Ellen from ALL THE DIFFERENCE - to select prizes they'd love to receive. Ellen, representing the devious women of Grandville, selected some Naughty gifts - Arsenic perfume, a Black Swan Ornament, a Journal to write about her secret lives, a Swarm of Bees candle and more. Kelly, representing the happier women of Grandville, selected an assortment of Nice presents for you including Rosewater perfume, a handblown White swan ornament, a journal to record your good deeds, a pure white soy candle and more. To enter, leave a comment or enter via Rafflecopter here or on my Facebook Author Page!



Emerald Barnes is the winner of the Naughty & Nice Giveaway! Thank you to all of you who entered! More exciting giveaways and events are coming - as soon as tomorrow! And may all of you enjoy the most wonderful time of the year! xoxo



Real You: So much to be thankful for, especially you!

It's that time of year, when we all reflect on our blessings. As an author, finally putting my passion into action and having the career of my dreams, I am sure of one thing - your support makes all the difference. With each book or short story, I've been thrilled by the response from long-time friends, and new friends alike. I'm so grateful my novels have resonated with you, and that you are looking forward to the next. Who could ask for anything more? But there is more. Always. My family. A week ago, my daughter's college house burned down. She lived there with 8 other girls, and thankfully, none of them were home when the fire started. It moved quickly and the damage was enormous. She lost everything - possessions, clothes, computer, photos - but she is safe. And really, that's what matters as we all know.


Her close-call was a reminder to me, and a lot of folks who saw her story, to check your smoke detectors and hug your kids; to let go of stuff, but to hold onto memories in your heart; and finally, to be so thankful for everyday we have and everyone in it. It can all be over in a moment.

I am so thankful for you. Have the happiest of Thanksgivings.

Real You: Transitions

Labor Day weekend is such a bitter-sweet time, at least for me. I find myself lamenting the upcoming structures of fall and winter. With the kids' school and sports and activities schedule back in full swing in less than a week, those sweet sleep-in days of summer will be just a memory.But, with every seasonal transition comes that time for growth and renewal. It's also a great time for me to recommit to projects I've pushed aside and to reconnect with friends. It's also - ironically - when my book tour begins for my latest novel, ALL THE DIFFERENCE. And that is exciting! I'll post the tour soon, but here I come Columbus (September 20th), Cincinnati (September 21st) and Laguna Beach (September 30th).

Transitions are tough sometimes. Make sure you have things to look forward to - like a book tour, or a new project. And, happy September!

Real You: The power of outside approval

It's funny. Whenever I talk to groups about empowerment or personal branding, writing or publishing, I focus on the basic fact that belief in yourself is the key ingredient of success. The ability to know your REAL YOU, to define it - and what you're conveying to others - authentically - is crucial whether you are selling yourself, widgets, books or teaching your kids an important life lesson. Too often we find ourselves caught up in what other's think - waiting for a five-star review, a pat on the back, a promotion. But really, that waiting and hoping for outside approval moves us far away from our purpose and dangerously close to the snark infested waters I write about in Real You Incorporated: 8 Essentials for Women Entrepreneurs. Relying on outside approval turns your power over to others - and often, unfortunately, those others are snarks who's jealousy or unhappiness leads them to attack.

That's the downside. And the more real you become, the more you believe in yourself and follow your dreams, the more you stir them up. Keep calm and carry on. Try to let the negative slide off your shoulders. And most importantly, embrace the positive. The kind word. The thank yous and the promotions, the five-star reviews. Those are what matters in the end.

That's why I have a printed copy of the Kirkus review of my new novel ALL THE DIFFERENCE pinned above my desk. I was afraid to read the review when it arrived - but when I did, I was delighted. (Do you want me to read it to you? Just kidding, but if you were sitting here, I would!) Outside approval from an amazingly respected source. It will keep me going when a snark attack happens, which it will. The review will keep me believing in my stories, just as the many readers who have written positive reviews believe in my stories.

A few days ago, another letter came in the mail.

It was from Barnes & Noble notifying me ALL THE DIFFERENCE would be carried in store. Happy dances followed, and that letter, too, now adorns my bulletin board. I cannot count on this support, this affirmation. But boy, when it comes, it sure feels good.

Thank you if you've been part of that approval, if you've read and enjoyed my books and let me know. It means so much more than you'll know - and I'll never take it for granted!

Real You: Passages

My father-in-law, Harley E. Rouda Sr., died last Thursday. He lived a great life, accomplished so much, raised four kids, started a business that still survives today and, he loved to laugh. What's more, he was a trailblazer who welcomed women into management positions in the real estate industry long before most others. My husband and his dad were incredibly close - a type of bond you hope for between a father and son, a kid and a parent. But you know what else? He also was incredibly close to my children. He was a great grandfather to our four kids. Present, loving, giving, teasing, laughing. He was there and they knew it.

Unfortunately, my children were too young to remember their great grandparents before they died. So this, their beloved grandpa was the first person they loved who passed away. First funeral. First memorial service. First burial. And while each kid has handled it differently, they were all deeply saddened by his loss. And will be.

Passages are hard, but inevitable. Before my father-in-law's death, I had been overly focused on the next passages in our nuclear family - another child entering his senior year in high school and my first, entering his senior year in college. One more year until the real world for him; one more year with two kids at home for me. That hollow sound of the nest emptying gets louder by the minute, but that's for another post.

These passages, while difficult, are surmountable and they're important steps in life. Death, the final passage, puts all of the daily hurdles and blessings disguised as life changes into perspective. I'm going to try to remember that for the coming years.

Just as I'll always remember my father-in-law's twinkling blue eyes and his wonderful smile. As he said the last time I saw him over Memorial Day weekend: "This is it. If you keep laughing, keep having fun, you keep going. You could live forever." And he will, in our hearts and in the comfort of God's embrace.

Real You: Great summer reads!

I just love it when authors work together to support each other and that's the case with a new Facebook women's fiction writers group I'm involved with! The women are all amazing - and amazing story tellers. So, if you're looking for a great read this summer, consider one of these! You won't be disappointed! Available NOW:

Lisa Wingate's BLUE MOON BAY

Kaira Rouda's ALL THE DIFFERENCE (yes, that's by me)


Camille Noe Pagán's THE ART OF FORGETTING (paperback)

Coming Soon!



Amy Hatvany's THE LANGUAGE OF SISTERS (w/sneak peek of HEART LIKE MINE)


Laurie Frankel GOODBYE FOR NOW

Sarah McCoy's THE BAKER'S DAUGHTER (paperback)

Marisa de los Santos's FALLING TOGETHER (paperback)

You really cannot go wrong picking up one of these books ~ what a wonderful way to spend a weekend! Enjoy!